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Sunak Urged for ‘Calm Heads to Prevail’ in Call With Netanyahu

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Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron has also said ‘it is right to have shown solidarity with Israel,’ and has called for coordinated sanctions against Iran.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that now is the time for “calm heads to prevail” in Israel’s response to Iran’s drone and missile attack.

The prime minister spoke to his Israeli counterpart on Tuesday afternoon, affirming the UK’s support for Israel’s security but also urging restraint after Iran had launched some 350 projectiles at the country on April 13.

According to a Downing Street readout of the conversation between the two world leaders, Mr. Sunak “reiterated the UK’s steadfast support for Israel’s security and for wider regional stability.”

“The Prime Minister said Iran had badly miscalculated and was increasingly isolated on the global stage, with the G7 coordinating a diplomatic response. He stressed that significant escalation was in no one’s interest and would only deepen insecurity in the Middle East. This was a moment for calm heads to prevail,” Downing Street said.

Mr. Netanyahu had thanked the UK for its “rapid and robust support in the face of Iran’s reckless and dangerous attack,” according to the readout.

The UK had joined a United States-led international effort, including France and regional partners such as Jordan, to intercept almost all of the projectiles.

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The bombardment by Iran followed Israel’s targeting of an Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus, Syria, earlier this month that left seven high-ranking members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) dead.

‘Right’ to Show Solidarity With Israel

Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron arrived in Israel on Wednesday for meetings with Mr. Netanyahu and other senior figures to discuss the country’s response to Iran’s aerial bombardment. He is also expected to discuss the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and visit the West Bank.

Speaking to the media in Jerusalem, Lord Cameron said, “It is right to have shown solidarity with Israel.”

He continued: “It is right to have made our views clear about what should happen next, but it is clear the Israelis are making the decision to act.

“We hope they do so in a way that does as little to escalate this as possible and in a way that, as I said yesterday, is smart as well as tough.”

“But the real need is to refocus back on Hamas, back on the hostages, back on getting the aid in, back on getting a pause in the conflict in Gaza,” Lord Cameron added.

Earlier this week, the foreign secretary urged Israel to “think with head as well as heart” in its response and to recognise that the Iranian attack was an “almost total failure.”
Israel’s government has said the attack “will be met with a response.”

Iran Behind ‘Malign Activity’ in Region

The foreign secretary also addressed the UK’s position on the Iranian regime during the trip, denouncing the Islamic republic for being behind “so much of the malign activity in the region,” including Yemen’s Houthi rebels who are launching attacks and seizing vessels in the Red Sea.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron waits outside of Carlton Gardens in London on April 15, 2024. (Isabel Infantes/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron waits outside of Carlton Gardens in London on April 15, 2024. (Isabel Infantes/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Shia Islamist group backs Hamas and has said it will “continue to prevent all ships heading to Israeli ports until the food and medicine our people need in the Gaza Strip is brought in.”

Lord Cameron said on Wednesday, “We want to see coordinated sanctions against Iran.”

“Britain has in many ways led the way with our new sanctions regime, sanctioning dozens of people in Iran, sanctioning the IRGC in its entirety, and I think there is more that we can do to show a united front, that Iran is behind so much of the malign activity in this region, backing Hamas, backing Hezbollah, backing the Houthis,” Lord Cameron said.

“They need to be given a clear and unequivocal message by the G7 and I hope that will happen at the weekend,” he added.

An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, on April 14, 2024. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)
An anti-missile system operates after Iran launched drones and missiles towards Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel, on April 14, 2024. (Amir Cohen/Reuters)

Pressure to Ban IRGC

The foreign secretary reiterating the UK’s sanction programme against the Iranian regime comes amid calls from senior Conservative figures to proscribe the IRGC, which is already designated a terrorist organisation in the United States.

Former Cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith asked Mr. Sunak to consider banning the branch of the Iranian armed forces after he speaks with allies about what joint actions should be taken in response to Tehran’s aggression.

Members of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade in the capital Tehran on Sept. 22, 2018. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) march during the annual military parade in the capital Tehran on Sept. 22, 2018. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

“All roads lead back to Tehran when it comes to the terrible violence and the wars that take place in the Middle East,” Sir Iain told the House of Commons on Monday.

Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman, meanwhile, suggested banning the group would “put the UK’s national security first.”

Ms. Braverman told the Commons: “We have known for years that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism, funding and promoting terrorist plots, radicalisation and hostage-taking both in the Middle East and at home.”

“We have proscribed Hezbollah, we have proscribed Hamas, prime minister, why don’t we put the UK’s national security first by now proscribing the IRGC?” she asked.

PA Media contributed to this report.

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